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Close your eyes for the marvellous medicine which costs nothing but your time

If you were told there was one daily pill, which could help guard against diabetes, heart problems, inflammation, mental health issues and memory loss, with no side effects, would you take it?

If you answered yes, then you’re in luck because there is – and you don’t even have to take a physical pill. It’s called sleep and it could potentially protect you from illness and save the NHS countless appointments, investigations and no little money if we all got enough of it.

The wonderful gift of sleep probably goes largely for granted by those who possess it in abundance. However, it can be a waking nightmare for those who don’t.

It has been estimated up to 20% of the UK’s adult population doesn’t get enough sleep – typically between seven and nine hours each night. That’s around 112,000 people in North Wales alone.

This is more than the combined populations of Bangor, Caernarfon, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Connah’s Quay and Llandudno, not sleeping for long enough on a regular basis.

If all these people lost just one hour’s sleep a night, it would equate to almost 41m hours of slumber not taken across North Wales annually – or more than 5.1m proper nights of sleep lost, every single year.

Various other surveys claim up to three-quarters of us suffer from poor sleep quality, meaning broken sleep or restlessness. This can be just as debilitating as not getting enough sleep - sometimes worse. It’s no laughing matter for those affected and it can have serious health implications.

So, to mark World Sleep Day on March 17, we’ve put together a compendium of sleep-related health features.

We hope they will give you more understanding of the importance of sleep, hopefully help you to nod-off more successfully and save you some unnecessary trips to your GP or hospital.

Just click on the subject headings below to find out about: